Last night, just conveniently after I had put the kids to bed, and having suffered an evening of intoxication by nail polish solvant thanks to my teenage daughter, I became aware that the apartment was filling with a very strong smell of gas.
Having rushed about the apartment trying to find the source of the leak, and being absent-mindedly amused by my anxious son’s inspection of his bedroom radiator (doesn’t he know it is filled with water) I started to become increasingly concerned. Was it from my appartment, from my neighbours above, or from my neighbours below and should I wake the kids and evacuate into the sub zero temperatures?
Probably the most disconcerting factor was being unable to reach the emergency services who had been, unbeknown to me, overwhelmed with calls. Thankfully I reached for the windows to let the gas out, only be affronted by a wall of gas coming in. It was, I deduced, something vastly more serious for the town, but thankfully less serious for me.
A Lubrizol refinery on the Rive Gauche had had an instability in one of its pipelines earlier during the day and released an enormous cloud of gas into the atmosphere above Rouen. The intense smell was in fact the ‘odeur’ used to provide an alert to the presence of a gas leakage. At 10pm yesterday the super sized ‘gas’ cloud, which did contain a small quantity of actual gas loomed over a 30 kilometre radius of Normandy, directly centred on Rouen. Aparently non-toxic, nevertheless a sizeable quantity of Rouenaise inhabitants were complaining of headaches and nausea this morning.
As reports came in this afternoon that the Parisians were complaining about the smelly Rouenaise yokels, followed by complaints from the Norman cousins in Kent, it would appear that our smelly cheeses are not the only products making the headlines nor tickling the nostrils of the unwary…
..though if you’ve ever sat in a hot car whilst in possession of a Livarot cheese for several hours, you might be forgiven for getting confused between the two!